This week Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse spoke to the Press and Journal of the challenges the government and country faces producing long term clean reliable energy sources.
“The Scottish Government’s adoption of policies to build clean, green energy technologies and infrastructure was a bold step, but the fact we are not only meeting our targets, but exceeding them, shows it was the right thing to do.
“However, we can’t rest on our laurels. There is plenty left to do if we are to continue to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, meet the proposed targets set in our Draft Energy Strategy to produce half of all heat, transport and electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030 and a largely decarbonised energy system by 2050.
“Whilst we must rely on a range of technologies to deliver against these targets, onshore wind will be a key technology in the transition.
“Onshore wind developments already produce enough electricity to power equivalent to 3 million households in Scotland, generating over £3.2 billion in turnover per year for Scotland’s economy. Not only does onshore wind benefit the national economy, they also positively impact individual communities.
“Communities around Scotland are now entering partnerships with wind farm developers and local landowners, an excellent example of this is Soirbheas which is a community charity that aims to strengthen and support the communities of Glen Urquhart and Strathglass who have partnered with Corrimony Energy to own a fifth of the wind farm. This will generate an estimated £20m for the charity over 20 years.
“Of course, alongside building an environmentally sustainable future for the next generation, we must manage our land positively and sympathetically.
“It is unavoidable that transitioning to a low carbon economy will involve construction of new energy projects, including wind-farms, where appropriate.
“However, our natural environment is one of Scotland’s most precious resources and all proposed developments are rightly subject to strict planning laws designed to protect our environment and those who live locally.
“By seeking and listening to public opinion through consultations such as the draft Onshore Wind Policy Statement published last month, we will continue our commitment to achieving progress towards our vital climate change targets while ensuring projects are designed with due regard for Scotland’s world-class natural environment.”
The potential benefits that the draft energy strategy can bring will be felt throughout the country for generations to come. No doubt there will be some issues along way but if we all work together what we can achieve will be to everyone’s benefit.
In other Scottish news Scottish Water one the largest consumers of electricity in Scotland has for first time generated more renewable energy than it uses by increasing efficiency as well as generation capacity.
Scottish Water requires 445 GWh of electricity per year to run its operations across 4,500 sites including water and waste water treatment works. In 2011 in an effort to reduce their energy costs and increase renewable generation they started work on their own generation facilities and now own and operate 28 hydro turbines, 18 small scale wind turbines, 24 solar array parks, 2 biomass plants, and 3 C.H.P. plants.
All these led to the company reaching the milestone of a generation surplus.
Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform with the Scottish Government, speaking of the announcement said: “By generating and hosting more renewable power than they consume, (Scottish Water) are providing a great example to other companies. For them, renewable power is lowering their electricity bill – helping to keep customers’ water charges low.
Chris Toop, General Manager of Scottish Water’s energy programme, said: “Facilitating more renewable power than we consume makes a significant contribution to keeping the long-term cost of providing vital water and waste water services as low as possible, while supporting national economic, carbon and renewable energy targets.
“We have invested in a number of innovative measures such as low-carbon, low-cost treatment technologies and doubled our renewable energy capacity to more than 54GWh through hydro, wind, photovoltaic solar, biomass boilers and combined heat and power (CHP).”
Since 2013 Scottish Water have installed 4,000 smart meters raising annual financial benefits by more than £7 million and reduced carbon emissions by 16% since 2006. The company’s commercial subsidiary has invested £16 million in renewable technologies since 2011 and has committed a £50 million to sustainable energy production.
Roseanna Cunningham concluded: “As we consult on Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy, this impressive achievement shows that the Government’s ambition to reduce carbon greenhouse gas emissions by 66 per cent by 2032 is realistic.”
The size of the task ahead in order to reach our goals of carbon emission reduction dictates that everybody including government and industry must be on side if it is to be achieved.
Scottish Water is a fine example of how using the facilities available can achieve fantastic results and government is engaging with more and more businesses and industries in order to help them set up similar projects.
In the short term however there will be costs but as Scottish Water have shown in the long and probably even medium term both economically and environmentally it is worth it.